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Recent changes in the level of Lake Naivasha, Kenya, as an indicator of equatorial westerlies over East Africa

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A previously unpublished record of lake levels from Lake Naivasha, Kenya from 1880 to 1976 has been analysed and shows little similarity to the level record from nearby Lake Victoria. Level changes from year to year of the two lakes show no significant correlation (at 5%) and spectral analysis of the two records shows no common significant peaks. Both lakes show significant correlations between their level changes and the strength of the North Atlantic winter circulation, with the correlation coefficients in opposing directions indicating important, but different, large scale climatic links.

Lake Naivasha's major level increases occur during May and September. Lake Victoria's level increases mainly in May with a small December increase. East African rainfall is generally during April and November, corresponding with Lake Victoria's changes. Rainfall records from Kenyan highland areas, however, show an August rainfall peak and little rainfall in November. Rainfall amounts from Equator, a highland meteorological station, for July, August and September are highly correlated (at 1% significance level) with the change in Naivasha's level during September. Winds at the highland stations are westerly during August while the lower level stations experience the drier S.E. Trades. The level changes of Lake Naivasha indicate changes in the extent of the penetration of moist air from West Africa between the Trade winds and the 200 mb easterly jet.

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Vincent, C.E., Davies, T.D. & Beresford, A.K.C. Recent changes in the level of Lake Naivasha, Kenya, as an indicator of equatorial westerlies over East Africa. Climatic Change 2, 175–189 (1979).

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